Great people are just ordinary people

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Hyde Park, 22 July 1988

Every picture tells a story but there’s a story behind every picture and I guess this one’s a personal one. When I was a student I held a press card and it gave me access to a lot of privileged places. In 1988 I got a front row position at the ‘Freedom for Nelson Mandela’ protest in Hyde Park, London. 250,000 people were present that day and it was the biggest ever anti-apartheid demonstration in Britain.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu was one of the speakers and I remember the moment I took this picture, in particular because of feeling the intensity his delivery. Focussing on his face I thought I’d got a good shot. It was in the days before digital photography and back then you took very few images and there was always those days of anticipation before they were printed.

When I saw the print I was surprised to find that the feeling I experienced was not reflected in the faces of those sitting behind him. There’s the yawning woman and even Richard Attenborough, on the left, seemed to be trying to work out what he was attempting to convey. It was a very hot day and Simple Minds were up next, so I wondered if that had something to do with it? Back then, as today, celebrities like rock stars held our attention the most. Perhaps they were thinking, “Get on with it Desmond, we want the music”?

The other day an old school friend sent me a photo of his late father in an embrace with Archbishop Desmond, who had been close friends with him and his family. He also sent an obituary the Archbishop had written about his dad (below). It is easy to forget that such great people as these two bishops were also just normal people, doing extraordinary things, but just other people like the rest of us. It is this, for me, that makes them even more extraordinary.

From Church Times, 7 April 2017

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Dr Nick Stafford is a psychiatrist, writer, photographer and publisher who lives in the Midlands UK.

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Nick Stafford

Nick Stafford

Dr Nick Stafford is a psychiatrist, writer, photographer and publisher who lives in the Midlands UK.

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